Upper Tonto beta needed - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
 
lmyers's Avatar
 
Buena Vista, Colorado
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Upper Tonto beta needed

I'm hoping someone can tell me a little about the upper Tonto. Kohl's Ranch campground to Bear Flat.

I have WWSR and have read the description there. It calls the run boney II-III with a "short and committing class IV gorge", but I haven't found any other information than that. Normally I would trust the writeup, but the description for the Rye Creek to Gun Creek "Box Canyon" stretch calls it IV with a IV+/V-.... and it's not that hard at normal flows. It's II-III with a III+/IV drop from everything I have seen....

So a personal account of the actual difficulty of the run would be appreciated. As would any links to trip reports and/or videos and photos.

Thanks!

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
KSC
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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A while back I guess I covered the part from the confluence of Tonto & Christopher to Bear Flat. I assume that included the gorge part. I don't have a great recollection of it, but I think class maybe IV- is about a right. I remember encountering a piece of wood in there and it was a narrow creek, which was the main reason for being alert. It was kind of cool but doesn't seem like it'd be a worth a mission just for that unless you're doing other things in the area. I don't recall there being any particularly interesting whitewater features.

If you're in the area at normal flows and solid in class IV then my guess would be you'd be ok. Take it with a grain of salt though - I've only been there once and it was the tail end of a day on Christopher Creek.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
 
Bisters, Oregon
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The Hells Gate section of Upper Tonto is certainly worth the effort for a team of Class V kayakers. The Lower section II-III is also very worth it because its fun, pretty, and the shuttle is short. Any other pieces of Tonto are not often run because its a lot of driving for what is there...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thanks for the info. I'm definitely not solid enough for Hell's Gate. I do feel like I'm pretty solid on class IV though and just evaluating my options for an upcoming trip (paddling on the 16,17,18 and 19th).

So for a class III-IV day trip it sounds like the lower stretch from Rye to Gun Creek is more interesting?

We were thinking Salt daily, Fossil, Oak Creek and either another day on Oak or a run on Tonto...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
 
Bisters, Oregon
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Yeah I wouldn't call anything on that run IV at normal flows. There is a funky pinch rapid that can be tricky. The nice things about that run are the Schist gorge is quite scenic, there are a few side canyons worth poking around in, and the shuttle is very short for AZ standards. You could do 2 laps if you were motivated. You can also camp near the put-in on Rye Creek and the bar at Jakes Corner is close to camp & worth it for some local night life...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmacn View Post
Yeah I wouldn't call anything on that run IV at normal flows. There is a funky pinch rapid that can be tricky. The nice things about that run are the Schist gorge is quite scenic, there are a few side canyons worth poking around in, and the shuttle is very short for AZ standards. You could do 2 laps if you were motivated. You can also camp near the put-in on Rye Creek and the bar at Jakes Corner is close to camp & worth it for some local night life...
Great information, thanks! I have been able to find a couple youtube videos that make the lower run look scenic. From what I see it looks like mostly II+/III- with the one "pinch" rapid you mentioned (perhaps IV-). Guess we will have to wait and see what flows do...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #7
tytanr
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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Tonto

Any thoughts on how low flows can drop on this stretch before we need to write it off. Local or 1st hand input anyone? Thx
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #8
 
Bisters, Oregon
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You can get down at 300+- and still enjoy it in kayaks. Maybe lower but not worth the drive...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #9
 
GJ, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmacn View Post
You can get down at 300+- and still enjoy it in kayaks. Maybe lower but not worth the drive...

I ran it at ~300 in December. Low but not scrapey. Great scenery -- rare to see saguaro and p/j occupying the same hillside.

Worth lapping the one pinch rapid, and maybe worth setting safety -- the hydraulic was funky and I don't think you could swim out of it.

Gorgeous gorge near the end.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
 
Durango South, 4CRS
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The crux drop everyone is referring to is just after some cables cross the river overhead. There is a big eddy on left if you want to scout, just before the river curves right. We ran it at 700 and it felt like 3+ but at high water I could see it getting much more difficult.

The gorge is definitely worth a paddle if you are in the area, and with the rain forecast you should have plenty of water by Sun or Mon.
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